The Quick Report

Beat Science – The Highest Paying Jobs in Audio Engineering

Audio engineers record, process, edit, and produce various kinds of audio, sounds, and music. A wide variety of jobs exist, more than most realize. Learn about many educational paths one can take to this high-paying career.

Is a career in audio engineering right for you?

Does working with sound and/or music interest you? From musical performances to spoken words to film and more, audio engineering is an exciting, rewarding, and high-paying field. 

Working with sound as wide applications. Sound is all around us. Most of us probably take for granted all the recorded and edited audio we encounter in our daily lives. We hear recorded sound with on-hold messages when we call a business. There’s recorded and edited sound in commercials, video games, television shows and movies, audiobooks, apps, and more. 

Courtrooms, law enforcement, and legal corporations use sound in ways that require recording and editing from an audio engineer. Audio forensic experts work with the government, law enforcement, and corporations.

The bottom line is that everywhere there is sound, there’s an audio engineer. Someone had to record it, process it, edit it, and deliver a final produced product of that audio.

If working with sound is something you enjoy, the good news is that you can make money with your passion. A lot of money.

What are the educational requirements for a job in audio engineering?

One can take many routes to gain the education needed for a career in audio engineering.

What’s most important: In the field of audio engineering, nothing is more important than your ability to do the job. Skill and experience will typically supersede the type of educational background you have. The most important factors are proving that you have the skill and are reliable. You also need to be able to take direction and be easy to work with.

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The above considered, let’s look at the various ways you can gain an education in audio engineering:

On-the-job training & internship:

One of the most traditional routes to a career in audio engineering is internship and/or working as an assistant. Many of the greatest audio engineers began their careers working as an intern. They were mentored by engineers who taught them the trade as they gained hands-on experience.

Important: If you can, seek an internship or assistant position in the field you most desire. For example, working as an intern in audio production may introduce you to some aspects of recording and editing. However, if your goal is to work in forensic audio investigation, you’ll ultimately need to get experience in that specific field. 

It should be noted: It used to be that engineers who wanted to work in the music industry would intern at large studios. However, many large studios have closed. With fewer big studios still operating, it makes it harder to land these internships. But there are still many internships in film and TV work, as well as in other industries.

Trade schools & workshops:

There are trade schools and workshops that offer a variety of courses in audio engineering and production. Some may require a high school diploma or equivalent, and some may not. Some programs will offer a certificate, and others may not.

These programs vary in length and cost. However, students are typically taught the basics. The basics usually include understanding sound. Working with microphones, speakers, headphones, and other equipment. Recording and editing with software called a digital audio workstation (DAW).

Community colleges and universities:

Some community colleges and universities offer certificate or degree courses in audio engineering.

Private tutoring:

Some audio engineers and/or producers also offer private tutoring or short-term workshops.

The Highest Paying Jobs in Audio Engineering

The need for audio engineering skills is vast and distributed across a wide application of industries and needs. 

1. DSP Engineer

Salary range: $143,000-$167,000 per year

A digital signal processing (DSP) engineer is responsible for the conception, development, and ongoing maintenance of digital signals to ensure their accuracy. They leverage their expertise in DSP algorithms and software to design and optimize systems that process audio, visual, and data signals.

DSP engineers work across a wide spectrum of systems, including undersea cables, audio-visual systems, and computer networks.

2. Acoustic Engineer

Salary range: $78,500-$132,500 per year

Acoustic engineers are professionals who specialize in the science of sound and vibration. They apply their expertise to design, develop, and evaluate systems that control or utilize sound and vibration in a variety of applications. Acoustic engineers play a crucial role in ensuring the proper functioning of various products, equipment, and environments.

Acoustic engineers conduct acoustic measurements and analysis. They design and develop acoustic solutions and evaluate the effectiveness of acoustic solutions. Acoustic engineers troubleshoot acoustic problems and provide acoustic and consulting services.

3. Voice Engineer

Salary range: $81,000-$127,500 per year

A voice engineer oversees the telecommunications systems of an organization, ensuring seamless voice communication. They may specialize in voice-over-internet protocols (VoIP), earning the title of VoIP engineer. Their responsibilities revolve around quality control during hardware or system implementations and troubleshooting any issues that arise.

The daily tasks of the voice engineer typically involve installing, customizing, maintaining, and repairing telecommunication systems. Keeping pace with technological advancements, particularly in cybersecurity, is crucial. Some positions are customer-facing, demanding excellent verbal communication skills, especially when working for a third-party IT company. Critical thinking is also essential for devising solutions to complex problems.

4. Balance Engineer

Salary range: $41,500-$121,500 per year

A balance engineer is a crucial member of the audio production team, responsible for achieving the desired sonic balance and overall sound quality of a recording or live performance. They work closely with producers, artists, and sound engineers to achieve the desired sonic vision for the project.

Job duties include mixing audio tracks, creating a stereo image, enhancing clarity and separation, and addressing sonic issues. Engineers collaborate with producers and artists. They must adapt to different genres and styles. Balance engineers must stay up-to-date with industry standards and trends.

5. Audio Supervisor

Salary range: $70,000-$95,000 per year

An audio supervisor is a key member of the audio production team, overseeing the entire audio process from pre-production to post-production. They are responsible for ensuring the overall quality and consistency of the audio for a project, ranging from music and sound effects to dialogue and voiceover.

In the pre-production phase, audio supervisors work closely with producers, directors, and other creatives to establish the sonic vision and budget for the project. They may also be involved in script breakdown, selecting sound effects, and composing or licensing music.

During production, audio supervisors supervise the recording process, working with sound engineers to ensure that all audio elements are captured correctly. They may also edit, mix, and master the audio to achieve the desired sound quality.

6. Sound Designer

Salary range: $65,000-$89,000 per year

Sound designers play a crucial role in crafting the sonic landscape of various media productions, from films and television shows to video games and interactive experiences. Their expertise lies in creating, assembling, and manipulating sound effects to enhance the production’s storytelling, atmosphere, and overall emotional impact.

Depending on the specific medium and production requirements, sound designers may produce a wide range of audio clips, encompassing everything from natural sounds like footsteps and ambient noises to more abstract or fantastical sound design elements. Their work involves a combination of creativity, technical proficiency, and attention to detail.

In collaboration with the director and other sound technicians, sound designers strive to ensure that all the audio elements seamlessly blend, creating a cohesive sonic experience that supports the creative goals of the production. They may source specialized sound effects from third-party libraries or employ their ingenuity to create and record unique sounds themselves.

7. Recording Engineer

Salary range: $89,000-$89,000 per year

Recording engineers capture and shape the sounds that bring stories, emotions, and experiences to life. They orchestrate the recording process, from setting up and operating sophisticated equipment to meticulously editing and mastering the final audio product.

Their responsibilities encompass a wide spectrum of tasks, including directing artists and actors to achieve the desired vocal performances, utilizing computer software to edit and manipulate audio recordings, and ensuring the seamless integration of audio elements with visual media. Recording engineers may also be called upon to mix and master audio recordings, adjust microphones and other equipment to optimize sound capture, and synchronize audio tracks with visual elements.

8. Audio Operator

Salary range: $27,000-$78,000 per year

Audio operators play a pivotal role in orchestrating the sonic tapestry of live or recorded media programs. They work with the soundboard, expertly manipulating its controls to ensure a clear, balanced, and engaging audio experience for the audience. Their expertise extends beyond mere technical proficiency; they possess a deep understanding of sound principles and audio mixing techniques, enabling them to create a cohesive and impactful soundscape.

Audio operators meticulously set up and test microphones, interruptible foldback (IFB) systems, and a myriad of other equipment ensuring that every component performs flawlessly. They collaborate closely with other audio engineers to determine technical details, ensuring that the audio setup aligns with the overall production requirements. Their dedication extends beyond technical matters; they may also assist in the production of commercial or promotional material, leveraging their knowledge of audio to enhance the effectiveness of these productions.

9. Sound Engineering Technician

Salary range: $41,500-$67,500 per year

Sound engineering technicians seamlessly integrate electrical sound equipment and broadcast technology into a diverse range of projects and industries. Their expertise spans radio broadcasts, video recordings, live concerts, and beyond. With a keen ear for detail and a mastery of technical intricacies, they orchestrate the sonic landscape of these productions, ensuring that the audio experience complements and enhances the visual narrative.

As a sound engineering technician, their responsibilities encompass a broad spectrum of tasks. They meticulously assess the sonic requirements of a given environment, selecting and setting up the most appropriate sound equipment to achieve the desired audio profile. During production, they diligently monitor and adjust audio levels, ensuring a balanced and engaging listening experience for the audience. Their expertise extends beyond the live performance or recording session; they may also utilize audio editing programs to refine and perfect the final audio product.

10. Mixing Technician/mixing engineer

Salary range: $34,000-$58,000 per year

Mixing technicians, also known as mixing engineers, play a crucial role in the audio production process, shaping the sonic landscape of music, films, and other multimedia experiences. They are the maestros of the mixing console, meticulously blending and balancing individual audio tracks to create a cohesive and impactful overall sound.

The artistry and technical expertise of mixing technicians encompass a wide range of tasks. They carefully analyze the individual components of a recording or live performance, assessing the tonal qualities, dynamic range, and overall balance of each instrument, vocal, and sound effect. With a deft touch and a keen ear for detail, they manipulate the controls of the mixing console, adjusting volume levels, applying equalization (EQ) to enhance or reduce specific frequency ranges, and incorporating effects such as reverb, delay, and compression to shape the sound and enhance its emotional impact.